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Ian

Vegetable gardening

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Self and Tiny Beast acquired a small allotment a couple of months ago. After some assiduous labour the soil is starting to become visible and we're actually addressing how to go about using it. I want to grow lots of greens - kale, chard, spinach etc - for green smoothies, she'd like potatoes and brussels sprouts and sunflowers and so on.

 

Question is: does anyone have any experience of vegetable gardening in a chemical-free fashion? Especially of biodynamic Steiner style processes, or weird shit like Sonic Bloom?

 

Or any kind of link-up between taoist/buddhist attitudes in general and farming techniques?

 

Seems like "cultivation" ought to be something that these traditions address.

 

Also, any strong opinions on "no-till" mulching vs digging and planting?

 

Yours with dirty fingernails,

I

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Hit the library. There is the classic Squaire Foot Gardening. Which is an interesting somewhat anal retentive approach. There is the "20 Minute Gardener" which I like very much.

 

Both books are for smaller gardens. The 20 minute gardener book has a nice chapter on selecting the best most interesting varieties. Both have good suggestions for garden layout and maximizing soil.

 

Michael

 

Ofcouse I don't garden much. But I have my Sweet 100 tomatoes growing in some pots each year.

 

Michael

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Dont know much about gardening, but definately stick some orgonite in there! The plants at my flat started growing like crazy when I got my first little orgonite piece - I felt like I was in little shop of horrors or something.

 

I also like to eat sprouts, so conducted a little personal test - got alfa alfa seeds sprouting in a room with orgonite next to it and one in the other room with no orgonite (the light was equal for both and I tried to treat them in the same way, also the seeds came from the same packet)

 

The results were quite obvious - nearly all the seeds in the orgonite batch sprouted where-as the control batch had many unsprouted seeds. Also the sprouts in the orgonite batch were longer and the little leaves were bigger and greener than the control batch.

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let me know how the steiner thing goes. If that doesn't work and the organite doesnt save the day, then you gotta resort to the pesticides. Your climate is cooler, tho. maybe you can do it. we r in zone 7/8.

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Hi Ian,

 

I just sent you an email cc'ed to a friend of mine from Belgium who is into biodynamic gardening and has studied alot with Chia and Winn. If you don't get it, let me know and I will try again. He is a way-cool guy, knows Barry Spendlove well, and you guys should hit it off. He only checks his email every couple of days, so it may take a while to get in touch with him.

 

"Tiny Beast"? sounds interesting....

 

Chris

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I have been growing veggies and tomatoes etc on & off for many years. I advize finding out about your home turf and what grows best there before planting. I also know that sun-flowers put out a chemical from their roots that will inhibit the growth of other plants-so keep them seperated and use the same spot for them each season.

 

I have always been a digger/planter. Worms are very good in the compost heap- and also in the ground where you plant as they will airate the soil... Any additives depend on what sort of soil you have to begin with...

Have fun!!! & Bon appititttte!

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Crop rotation, companion planting, cover crops, and beneficial insects can all help keep you on the organic track.

 

Crop rotation, one year you plant peas in a spot, they actually put nitrogen into the soil, next year you plant tomatoes there or another crop that loves nitrogen.

 

With companion planting you can plant something that repels certain insects beside a plant those insects normally love or plant a trap crop, which will draw insects to it instead of to the garden plant you want to protect.

 

Cover crops. They help to keep weeds down and can also add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil.

 

Beneficial insects. You can actually buy lady bugs, praying mantises or is that manti?, and other beneficials.

 

Also, using stuff like floating rowcovers can keep bugs and frost out while creating a wonderful growing enviroment.

 

Oh, there's way more, my mind's just ajumping back into the garden...darned winter!!!

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I'm excited to see all of the interest in natural means of sustenance. :D

I also second Treena on all of the marvelous suggestions pointed out.

 

One thing that comes to mind here, that I can add ... have you considered utilizing a compost bin?

It's not always as hard as it appears. You can even build your own out of scrap wood, you don't have to fork out tons of dough and get high tech state of the art bins. I'm a big fan of simpler is better.

From the few I've used, I have found that it is best to NOT put alot of unnatural things in them that you would not personally normally consume. Of course, there are exceptions - like cardboard, grasses, dead plants, parts of vegetables you chop off before using, and bones, with occasional blending of soil, livestock feces & hay. Not so good - chemicals, plastic wrappers, conventional animal feces (cats, dogs, birds, fish, etc), waxes/greases, cans, etc. I'm sure there are a few members on this board that can expound further on this if so desired.

Of course, checking out more resources on the web with a search can also always lend helpful and diverse insight.

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Thank you people: here's what I've found out so far.

 

Compost is great. Worms are great for compost, mainly red wrigglers. Other worms good for soil, esp lumbricus terrestris, night crawlers. Compost worms don't like plain soil and vice-versa.

 

Horse manure needs to be dug in and rotted. Compost can be left on top as mulch, worms will take it down.

 

Crop rotation is great for avoiding some diseases: some other plants, if allowed to die into the soil, give what is needed for the next generation.

 

Weeds and insects do not attack seriously healthy plants/soil. Some weeds are great, because their roots penetrate down on plants' behalf.

 

Virtually no-one double-digs any more, apparently. The debate is between single digging and no till, it seems.

 

I've ordered twenty kilos of rock dust, and a biodynamic planting calendar.

 

As to orgonite, how major a device do people think would be needed to make a difference to an outside plot about 40 feet each way?

 

Dum de dum, home time...

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I'd be real careful with that orgonite stuff for gardening. I read on the internet about one fella who used it in his potatoe patch. Seems like the taters got a greenish tint to them. They also developed eyes. Then arms and legs. Honest. Pretty soon the vegetables were trying to take over the whole town. They planted a whole lot of people til an out of towner named Quayle come up with a plan to stop them evil taters.

 

I'm not saying you absolutely should not use the orgonite on your vegetable patch. But if you do, keep a some sharp tools by the field and a few more by yur bed, just in case.

 

 

Michael

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I strongly recommend "Liquid Karma" as an additive for growing just about anything. That stuff is wonderful. OK so it is mostly stoners who use it, but it works beautifully for other crops as well.

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I'd be real careful with that orgonite stuff for gardening. I read on the internet about one fella who used it in his potatoe patch. Seems like the taters got a greenish tint to them. They also developed eyes. Then arms and legs. Honest. Pretty soon the vegetables were trying to take over the whole town. They planted a whole lot of people til an out of towner named Quayle come up with a plan to stop them evil taters.

 

:lol: Sounds like those tater people are a crop to have ready about Halloween time.

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Compost is great. .. Horse manure needs to be dug in and rotted. Compost can be left on top as mulch, worms will take it down. ... Weeds and insects do not attack seriously healthy plants/soil.
I've had good fun with compost. Leaves from the yard, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds (worms like coffee, yumm!, Starbucks gives away free bags of used grounds), and occasionally I'll go to a stable and pitch-fork out some manure into an empty trash can and bring it back to add. Per the Rodale book of composting, adding some manure occasionally helps immensely. Once or twice a year I'll add some worms.

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'Cept for the Organite thing - it is amazing how the basics are so very much the same in our experiences... This is very reassuring to me. I think we all may Need to be farmers sometime in the near future; as I am not sure we will be able to trust our food sources to be as pure as we'd like them to be. Now, we can get expensive organic food and free-range chickens and such at great expense... I just hope that our knowledge will keep us all well fed and healthy.

 

Hey TheLerner -Are the spudians' younguns called tater tots?

Edited by Wayfarer64

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You young ones laugh now, but I'm telling you true. Don't mix taters and orgonite. Remember the taters got eyes.

 

 

Michael

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Dem Eyes are only in their heads!- I've only just heard of organite on this site. So I have no expeience with it. A buddy o'mine once grew some great herbs with co2 canasters at the ready and very fortified soil and seeds from Amsterdam. It gave me visions of laughing myself into appoplexy in a chocolate filled bathtub...It was astounding how funny everything became when that crop was in the mix...Sublime rediculeousness.

 

Maybe a comfy couch and a TV turned to the food channel would chill out them spudniks- couch potatoes are only a menace to themselves

 

Better to be out a-farmin'!

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As to orgonite, how major a device do people think would be needed to make a difference to an outside plot about 40 feet each way?

 

You've got two choices - either do it on the cheap - buy maybe a pyramid for the centre (from one of the links Karen and I provided on the orgonite thread) and several towerbuster for the perimiter of the plot - I reckon that should be fine...

 

The other choice is to get an EVG from the Hootens and a couple of EZAP's - although the effect of this would be on a much larger area than just your patch...

 

I remember reading about stalagmites forming in ice trays once you get orgone in the house - I tried this out - and low and behold I got one (when I got my more powerfull one I got many more, reguarly)... Apparently some dude had an EVG near a bird feeder and discovered, one cold winter morning, a huge, thick stalagmite sticking straight up out of the water tray... this may indicate something good - or maybe not :) (if those potato guys dont get you, the stalagmites certainly will!!)

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just read a review of this nice related book:

 

This Commong Ground: seasons on an organic farm

 

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i"ve been growing my own vegies at home for about 7 years.

 

frist thing you might want to do is determine your soil type. the basic categories are sand/silt/clay/loam

most soils while having a certain predominance of one type, are typically a combination of at least 2 or 3 types.

 

the soil type will dicatate how well the drainage will be and the nutrient holding capacity.

clay holds and contains nutrients, but drains poorly etc. the ideal is alluvial soil or a deep loam.

 

i'm a fan of NOT digging if you can avoid it. excessive digging, particularly at a depth greater thatn 300mm can drastically disturb and damage the soil structure. this can have implications on the biological activity of the soil, especially the worms.

 

to avoid digging, i like to fallow beds after it has grown 1 or 2 crops. this involves one or a combination of the following: planting a green manure/crop (usually broad beans or barley), applying compost, applying rotted manure, mineral rock dust, and lucerne but preferablly pea straw. allow all this to rot down and then plant onto it what ever is next in line according to the crop rotation system. basically, don't plant a crop in the same place twice. try to have a rotatin of at least 4 or 5 plant families for each bed

 

 

soil that is left bare for extended periods will loose it's vitality and could become hydrophobic.

hydrophobic soil is very common here because of the harsh sun.

in this regard, i no longer look at weeds an an enemy of the garden. they are just there to provide protection to the soil from the sun.

 

i hope you enjoy growing and eating your own food. to me, it is an opportunity to become involved in another of natures cycles.

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We've been gardening for awhile, our biggest issue is sun, or the lack thereof due to the number of trees in our yard.

 

Machaelle Small Wright has some very interesting viewpoints on gardening. She actively cultivates a connection with the various Nature spirits, Devas, etc. The method she uses is probably closest to the Findhorn approach. It involves setting up a connection with the nature spirits in your yard and asking them what the yard needs, and then be willing to do what is described. We are not using this approach entirely yet, but I think it's the closest spiritually to a true cultivation method. Check out:

 

http://www.perelandra-ltd.com/

 

My heavily paraphrased summary - Nature is dying to teach us what it needs. In order to establish a relationship, humans need to approach Nature as a student, learn to ask questions and properly interpret the answers, and then be willing to do what is described. So far, monkey mind has been frequently confronted with answers received.

 

Another fascinating gardening viewpoint is from A.F. Beddoe, who follows a Biological Ionization approach. One of his books - Nourishment Home Grown - thoroughly describes a method to improve the health of the soil. The lack of soil health is probably our biggest issue. Unfortunately, following a strict organic approach does not necessarily help soil health. And what will probably twist a few corks; inorganic methods can_sometimes_be quite effective. Rock phosphate is his basis, so it sounds like you're heading in a great direction. Check out:

 

http://www.advancedideals.org/RBTI_Biologi...nization_2.html

 

For a fun read on other alternative approaches, check out Secrets of the Soil, if you've not already.

 

Lastly I've found that tending to the plants, and directly thanking them for the wonderful sustenance they provide is also quite effective. Approaching them with an open heart and an open mind goes a long way towards establishing a healthy relationship for both parties.

 

-Michael

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sorry, one other thought. If you're going to try a genuine cultivation approach. starting out with a 40'x40' plot is a HUGE endeavor, It will require a massive investment of time and energy. Biointensive suggests starting out small, like 10'x10'; to get an understanding of what is needed, and your level of interest/energy, and then growing from there.

 

Good Luck!

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Thought I'd add an update, about a year on.

 

So far, we've grown, in roughly chronological order, carrots, onions, potatoes, spinach and chard, beetroots, kale, brussels sprouts, globe artichokes, leeks, broccoli, celery and celeriac, a few more greens, and some herbs and flowers.

 

Failures have been garlic - planted much too early, desperate to put something in the ground, one of the main crop spuds - never came up, cabbages - small and raggedy, and squash - only three, but apparently it's been a bad year for them all round.

 

And we've suffered from a raging squall of whitefly, who are gradually succumbing to insect soap.

 

We've just got a small patch in the communal polytunnel, so winter salads and carrots are going in now. And I've just planted four dwarf apple trees, some really cool hundreds of yrs old cultivars.

 

The main fact I've noticed is we've got by fine on cheerful ingorance, sticking things in the ground at vaguely the right time of year and hoping for the best. So if you've got some land, don't let uncertainty stop you!

 

Also it can be really good to plant seeds at home and then only transplant the healthiest plants on to the plot. And it really does help to thin out a crowded line of plants - you'll get more food overall, however it might seem otherwise.

 

Perhaps even more importantly, for me at this time, than the free healthy food, is the chance to go out after work and do manual labour in the open on a gloriously pretty site. Total antidote to stiff neck and computer eyes. And some of the other people there are simply splendid.

 

Recommended. :D

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